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  • Top Story Replay: Politics, Intimidation Strike Boxing Americas


    (ATR) The governance crisis for IOC-suspended boxing federation AIBA is now infecting the Americas.

    The official in charge of the referees and judges at the just-ended 2019 Pan American Games in Lima says he’s under attack for refusing to fix matches.

    Pat Fiacco tells Around the Rings his refusal to bow to the pressure is the reason a group of boxing leaders from the Americas are demanding his resignation as a member of the AIBA Executive Committee.

    Fiacco, along with AIBA vice president from the Americas Osvaldo Bisbal, are called out by name in a declaration signed by leaders of 25 national boxing federations from South America, Central America and the Caribbean.

    The declaration assails Fiacco and Bisbal for supporting the controversial and short-lived AIBA presidency of Gafur Rakhimov.

    The declaration does not include the signature of U.S. EC member Ray Silvas. Contacted for his comment, Silvas says he supports Fiacco and Bisbal.

    The cover letter accompanying the declaration is signed first by Ricardo Contreras, president of the Mexico Boxing Federation. Repeated attempts to contact him for additional comments have not been successful.

    Bisbal, president of the Amateur Boxing Confederation of the Americas, tells ATR he’s not about to resign. He claims the president of the Ecuador Boxing Federation is agitating for the resignation to clear the way to seek the post held by Bisbal.

    “Nothing has to do with reality. There is a group of countries that do not know what it is and have signed that, promoted by Alex Gonzalez, the Ecuadorian, who I think believes that if he eliminates me, he will access the vice presidency,” says Bisbal.
    Osvaldo Bisbal.

    Bisbal will travel from Argentina this week to Istanbul for the latest meeting of the 26-member AIBA EC. The Aug. 31 meeting is the second for the ruling EC since the IOC formally suspended AIBA in June. The federation is barred from any involvement in the boxing tournament for Tokyo 2020. The IOC took the drastic step in reaction to a range of issues plaguing AIBA that include governance, finance, doping control, ethics and refereeing.

    The federation is now being led by Mohammed Moustasahne, the third interim president for AIBA since 2017. While reports had indicated that the Moroccan will quit the interim presidency at the Aug. 31 EC meeting, Bisbal thinks he will not.

    “I have not seen his resignation and what I believe is that he wants to remain in the presidency. Moreover, I think the IOC wants him to stay because he is the one who has met with the IOC, he is the one with the complete information,” Bisbal says.

    And while Bisbal says he has no intention to resign, neither will he run again for a leadership position at AIBA.

    “I am not going to run for any position. There will be another president of the Confederation of the Americas, from the next AIBA Congress,” the date for which is expected to be set after the Tokyo Olympics.

    Bisbal’s lack of interest in running again for the Americas vice presidency is convenient. The IOC has made it clear that wholesale change is needed at AIBA if the federation is to win back IOC recognition. That means a host of stalwarts in the AIBA leadership will have to go, replaced by candidates free of conflict.

    Fiacco says he was shaken by his experience in Lima which he says demonstrates the need to clean house in boxing run by AIBA.

    “There is conflict everywhere,” Fiacco says.

    He says Cuban Boxing Federation President Alberto Puig sent him an email in Lima requesting special treatment for Cuba in Lima.

    “Brother Fiacco,” goes the salutation in a copy of the message seen by ATR.

    “Because of the political conflict that exists between Cuba and the United States and according to the rules of AIBA, I request that no judge or little Mexican worker work in the fights of the Cuban boxers,” says Puig in the email.

    “I ignored the request,” Fiacco tells ATR.
    Fiacco spent 12 years as mayor of Regina, Saskatchewan before joining the AIBA leadership. (AIBA)

    “He also approached me at the venue, grabbed my arm and made the request again. I ignored the request and asked him not to touch me. He attempted to influence the RJ assignments which is a total violation of ethics,” says Fiacco.

    Fiacco says past Colombian federation president Alberto Torres climbed into the ring to register his dissatisfaction with the outcome of a bout in Lima, standing behind Fiacco.

    Ecuadorian federation president Alex Gonzalez, who holds a seat on the EC, is another official Fiacco believes is fomenting conflict. He says the behavior of Gonzalez is further proof that national presidents should not be allowed membership on the EC.

    Fiacco says the 26-member EC, of which he is a member as chair of the AIBA Technical & Competition Rules Commission, must shrink in size.

    Fiacco, who insists he is not running for anything at this time, advocates for an 11-member body with five from the continental confederations, four at-large and a male and female athlete. No national federation presidents would be allowed under the Fiacco formula. That would include him if such a rule was in place. He’s president of Boxing Canada.

    He says he’s kept Canadian Olympic Committee President and IOC member Tricia Smith informed of the crisis in AIBA. He says she’s supportive of the need for big changes at the federation. Fiacco says “Canadian values” should be applied to AIBA, what he calls “the Canadian way, fighting against injustice in sport”.

    “It’s time to be Olympian,” he says.

    Reported by Ed Hula.

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